Thursday, May 21, 2009


Yesterday, nearing noon, I heard Molly barking at something outside. Not long before, I'd gone to investigate her barking and found nothing to occasion much interest, so this time I went with a grumble. "What are you barking about now?"

This time, it was a snake, cornered in about the same spot as (I think) she'd once cornered a moccasin. (That happened while we were visiting Sweden. Granny L. and our neighbor down the road came to the rescue, but from what I've heard, it wasn't easy. Molly is a stubborn dog and didn't want to move out of the way enough for our neighbor to get a clear shot at the snake.)

I saw instantly that it wasn't the poisonous variety. I wasn't sure what it was, though, and in any case, I didn't want her to be bitten. Even a nonvenomous snake bite can become infected. After running out and calling to her, fruitlessly, I thought about Trixie. So far, she had stayed on the other side of the house (despite Molly's frantic and outraged barking), but I realized that if I kept calling Molly, she might come check things out and get involved, too. Just what I needed-- two dogs refusing to listen to me!

So-- I ran and got Trixie-- put her inside-- and ran back out to Molly. More calling with similar results. She just tuned me out. The snake was rattling its tail (imitating a rattlesnake) and "striking" at her, which only seemed to further infuriate her. When the snake tried to turn and flee through a narrow opening, crazy Molly grabbed it and pulled it back!

I was making myself hoarse with calling her, but it was as though she couldn't even hear me. I had a thought-- ran back inside to fetch two of her most-coveted squeaky toys-- ran back outside-- and let the squeakies do my talking. To my surprise and immense relief, it worked! Molly finally looked in my direction and followed one of the toys as I tossed it out into the yard. I squeaked the other in my most tempting manner ;o) and eventually led her into the house with it.


I then went back out with the video camera and was able to identify the snake as a kingsnake. Fortunately, it seems that Molly was not bitten, and the last I saw of the snake, it appeared to be alright, too. I'm glad, because I'd hate to have killed a kingsnake. Not only are they themselves nonvenomous, but they also constrict and eat, among other things, other snakes-- including pit vipers like cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, and copperheads. They have an amazing immunity that renders bites from venomous snakes relatively harmless.

Eastern Kingsnake from Michael Johansson on Vimeo.

Sorry for the shaky camerawork! I didn't have time to set up the tripod, and I had to zoom in pretty far. We all know how well *that* works.

(Hm. Looks like I need to clean the area around our front door!)